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Tommy Skarlis of Walker Minnesota

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Tommy Skarlis with 2 fine Illinois River WalleyeTommy Skarlis of Walker Mn is one of the hottest sticks on the tournamaent trail.  Tommy a true "River Rat" weined on the Mississippi River is just as at home trolling the Great Lakes.  Tommy finished up in 14th place overall in the 2001 In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Angler of the year shoot-out that was decided Dunkirk New York with a total of 246.26  lbs for the six qualifying events .  Tommy then finished 33rd overall in the 2001In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail Championship in Bismark North Dakota

Age  38 Fishing, hunting, hockey , golf, camping and snow skiing 
Born 07-22-65
Home Waterloo Iowa
Occupation Full time touring pro 

  • Three time In-Fisherman PWT Championship Qualifier
  • Six time Masters Walleye Circuit Qualifier
  • 1997 Masters Walleye Circuit Team Champion
  • 1996 qualifier for In-Fisherman PWT Super Pro Event
  • 1996 MWC Big Stone Champion
  • 1995 Masters Walleye Circuit Team of the year runner up
  • Eight top ten finishers in the last three years 
Favorite Fishing spots and techniques
Favorite  Fishing spot Mississippi River Red Wing Minnesota 
LARGEST WALLEYE  31 and 1/2 inches released
FAVORITE JIG TYPE Lindy Fuzzy Grub jigs
LARGEST LIMIT OF WALLEYE  Six walleyes weighting 54+ lbs
Favorite rig type Lindy Rig
FIRST TOURNAMENT  Leech Lake Minnesota
Tom's Proud sponsors
Ranger Building one boat at a time Mercury Outboard Motors first to the fish Abu Garcia the choice of Walleye Champions
Fenwick fishing rods simply the Best Off Shore Tackle and Trolling products for serious walleye fisherman Lindy Little Joe fishing Products
Berkley Power Baits Fish wont let go Pinpoint Trolling motors keep you on the structure and on the fish Interstate Batteries of Northern Iowa
Beckman Nets Strikemaster Gemini Sports Products
Pole Pouch RSG Jerry Roling Chevrolet- Buick of Waverly Iowa T-H Marine Supplies

APRIL 6 1997

Tommy Skarlis and partner Chad Kinkade, both from Waterloo, Iowa, overcame winds up to 50 mph and dropping temperatures to place third by weighting a total of 24.9 pounds of saugers in the Masters Walleye Circuit season opener on the Illinois river April 5th and 6th.The veteran team started off the first day of the tournament with whopping 13.55 pounds of sauger good enough to secure a tie for fouth place in the 225 boat field.  Waking Sunday to gale force winds, Skarlis and Kinkade knew that they would have there work cut out for them.   "By 8:30, the wind had come up to a constant 30 mph with gusts well around 50 mph. It was then that we realized that in order to stay vertical we were going to have to use the 9.9 Mercury Outboard Motorsoutboard four stroke"kicker motor" and point the transom of the Ranger Boatsinto the wind and the three foot waves." Skarlis commented further by saying " the conditions were so horrendous that waves were crashing over the transom of the boat and drenching us so bad that we had to run the bilge pump continously. The Mercury Outboard Motorsoutboard four stroke gave us the power we needed and ran so quietly that it did'nt spook the fish in the shallow 8-10 feet of water that we were fishing in.Skarlis and Kinkade fished an area of the Illinois River known as the Peru flats with 1/4 and 3/8 ounce hand tied and Lindy fuzzy grub jigs untill the winds Saturday afternoon forced them to present much heavier 5/8 and 1 ounce Lindy Jumbo Jigs in order to maintain contact with the bottom. The pair also found it neccessary to use hi-visibility Berkley Fish wont let goBerkley Trilene XT Solar in six pound test. This allowed them to to see the fish hit when the wind hindered there sense of feel, while also allowing less wind resistance due to it's thin diameter. Their most succesful colors were orange, lime and chartreuse jigs tipped with both minnows and Berkley Fish wont let goPowerbaits. This week its off to Lake Quachita in Hot Springs Arkansas where Tommy does battle in the Professional Walleye Trail Super Pro. 

1998 In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail
Date Location State
April 16,17 and 18 Lake Stockton Missouri
May 6,7 and 8 Port Clinton Lake Erie Ohio
May 31, June 1+2 Changed as of 11-07-97 Leech Lake Walker Minnesota
June 24,25 and 26 Lake Oahe Pierre South Dakota
July 22,23 and 24 Fort Peck Reservoir Fort Peck Montana
1998 Schedule MWC Schedule
Date Sponsors Location Town State
March 28-29 Tournament Info Results Quantum Rods and ReelsMotorguide Trolling Motors Illinois River Spring Valley Illinois
May 16-17 Tournament Info Results Mariner Outboard Motors Big Stone Lake Ortonville Minnesota
August 1-2 Tournament Info Results North Amercian Fishing ClubNorth American Fishing Club Little Bay De Noc Gladstone Michigan
August 22-23 Tournament Info Results Ranger Boats Still built one at a time Green Bay Green Bay Wisconsin
September 12-13 Tournament Info  Results Berkley Power Bait fish wont let goLindy Little Joe fishing Products Lake Pepin Lake City Minnesota
May 28-30 1998  Tournament Info Results World Walleye Championship Big Stone Lake Ortonville Minnesota

  • Illinois River , Spring Valley, IL April 5-6 (TOMMY PLACES THIRD)
  • Big Stone Lake, Ortonville, MN  May 17-18(Tommy places 9th)
  • Big Stone Lake, Ortonville, MN  May 29-31 CHAMPIONSHIP  top 50 qualifiers from 1996
  • Little Bay De Noc, Gladstone MI   June 21-22(Tommy places 9th)
  • Lake Winnebago, Oshgosh, WI   August 23-24 (Tommy takes 5th place)
  • Pentenwell Flowage, Adams County, WI   Sept-20-21(Tommy takes 29th place) 
    Tommy talks - Ice Fishing.It's been a long time coming, but it look's like we've finally got enough ice here in the midwest to fish on. In some of the northern reaches of Minnesota and Wisconsin they're even driving on the ice. As always, use severe caution and check with a spud bar as you walk. If you insist on driving, follow other veecle.tracks. Remember, there is not a fish that swims that is worth your life!The key to being successful in any kind of fishing, especially ice fishing is to remain as mobile as possible and to move often. The best way that I can explain this theory is to say that if you left the ice looking like swiss cheese, you gave it your best try. Start by drilling 5 to IO holes and use a hole-hopping approach. Start at the first hole that you drilled and set up your sonar unit and begin fishing regardless if your marking fish or not. The biggest mistake that most sonar equipped ice anglers make is to set up their unit and not fish a hole because they're not marking fish in it. I've found that to be successful, you've got to fish a hole for at least 2 to 5 minutes to determine if there are any biters around. Remember, you're looking for biters, not lookers, so if you keep marking fish that won't bite, dont try to be "Superman" and beat a dead horse trying to make these fish eat. If you can't catch'em, or if the action dies, move to the next hole and repeat the process. 
    The 40\40\20 APPROACH
    I use a 40\40\20 approach. In other words, I start by fishing the middle one third of the water column(in 15 feet of water this would consist of the 5 to 10 foot section) for 2 minutes(40% of 5 minutes). Then cover the bottom one third of the water column (IO feet deep down to the bottom) for 2 minutes. Then the top one third (from directly under the hole down to 5 feet deep) for one minute(20% of 5 minutes) 

    In each water column I start at the top and work my way down, using one inch jigging drops to create a rocking rhythm with my spring boboer. If the rhythm is broken it is almost always a bite, so I'm prepared at all times to set the hook whenever the rhythm breaks. 


    If you notice a mark on your sonar that seems interested in what your doing until you drop the jig towards it,(for example, if it backs or drops away from your presentation) lower your jig below the fish and slowly jig up past the fish with smaller and much more subtle rock-jiging movements. Stop every couple of inches or so and hold your presentation still until the fish starts to inch towards the bait, then repeat the process. Usually, sooner or later the fish will approach your presentation twice as fast as it had been. When this happens, pause and get ready to set the hook because this time the fish is coming to get supper. 


    In most states you have the option of using multiple rods. Whenever this option is available, I'll jig with one rod and fish about two feet away with a "dead" rod with either a small ice jig and a wax worm set about 6 inches off of the bottom for bluegills and an occasional crappie, or with a minnow when trying to target crappies. If the crappies aren't very aggressive, squash the minnow. It's always amazed me at how this would turn on a fish more than the live throbbing equivalent, but it produces. The beautiful thing about the two rod system is that if a fish comes in on the jig, it might bite the dead rod or vice versus. 


    The key to Ice fishing is to be as mobile as possible and cover as much area as possible. This means that you've got to drill a lot of holes. Strikemaster is now manufacturing a number of augers that allow you to not only drill numerous holes, but also make it faster and require less effort than ever before. My favorites are listed below: 

    This 2.0 HP, 49cc Tecumseh powered auger is a beauty. With dual "Chrome Alloy" stainless steel serrated LAZER blades, it is the lightest weight power auger that will cut through an old fishing hole with the same case as cutting a new hole. It has a rustproof white gas tank that allows the operator to visually see the fuel level, plus coated handles for greater control. A must for the serious ice angler. 

    Almost identical features as the LAZER MAG with the exceptions of a rustproof gas tank that is not translucent, but with 3.0 BP to offer the ice angler one of the most powerful augers available 


    With the same cutting blades as the LAZER MAG and THE LAZER XL-3000, the ELECTRA LAZER is powered by 12 volts, draws only 8 to 10 amps, and is the only environmentally sound power auger on the market. With no smell and no gas fumes combined with the lazer blades ability to re-cut old ice fishing holes, it is the perfect auger for the ice angler that chooses to fish out of a permanent ice house 

    I've been using sonar on the Ice now for five years and it has completely revolutionized the way that I fish and has improved my success immensely. Below are some of the products that I've found to work the best: 


    With the exterior shape and size of a standard flashlight, the POLAR VISION hand held digital sonar that allows you to read water depths of 3' to 199'through even the most severest of ice conoitions, and is powerful enough to read accurately through the bottom of a boat or c4noQ for the open water angler. Weighing in at only 1.5 lbs it has a carrying strap, is waterproof and it floats, has a visual and audible fish alarm, automatic shut- off, LCD display with Backlight for night use, and the case is impact resistant. I use it to find depth breakllines and it is especially handy when I need to locate a creek channel or rock pile. 


    The best units that I've found for ice fishing applications are the Clearwater Classic and LCF40 Ice Systems manufactured by Zercom. The systems are equipped with gel-pack batteries that will power the units for up to I 00 hours before re-charging is required. The LCF-40 and the Clearwater Pro both offer self-aligning transducers so that you.can spend more time fishing and less time adjusting you're transducer. All Zercom units offer the unique patented feature called Time Variable Gain or TVG. This feature allows the unit to mark a target and show it as the same size in five feet of water as it is when it is thirty-five feet deep. The units are so sensitive, that I've had them ark knots in my line, not to mention the tiniest of ice these With two inches of target separation and the added benefit of the units unique gray scaling, I can tell the size of a fish, where it is located in my transducer cone, or how many fish are down there (on other units two small panfish wiII usually show up as one big one). Fish resting on the bottom are even easy to identify. 

    1999 PWT Schedule
    1999 PWT Schedule
    Location Results and information City State Date Division
    Detroit River
    Trenton Michigan April 14-16 1999 East
    Lake Oahe 
    Mobridge South Dakota May 5-7 1999 West
    Mississippi River 
    Red Wing Minnesota May 26-28 West
    Lake Winnebago 
    Fon Du Lac Wisconsin June 23-25 East
    Devils Lake 
    Devils Lake North Dakota July 14-16 West
    Saginaw Bay 
    Linwood/Bay City Michigan August 4-6 East
    PWT Championship 
    Madison Wisconsin September 9-11

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